Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Most normal children are told to finish their food so that they can be big and strong or because there are starving children in Africa. Growing up, my violin teacher instructed me to eat more so that I could perform with the emotional gravitas of David Oistrakh. (It's a wonder I never had any eating disorders.)

Below is Oistrakh playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Movement II - Canzonetta, which is often described as a "song without words." The movement, though modest in comparison to the much flashier first and third movements, is warm and romantic while remaining gracefully restrained.

Somewhat unusually, Tchaikovsky instructs the soloist to perform the Canzonetta con sordino (with a mute), which enhances the subdued lyricism of the movement. Oistrakh ignores Tchaikovsky's instructions, but it's difficult to argue with the impact of his masterful interpretation.